The Future User Experience of Emirates Airline
Role: UX Designer & Strategist (BBDO) Team: Art Director (2), Senior UX Designer (3), Account Supervisor
I spent over a year and 6 months in Dubai consulting Emirates on their overall UX strategy, design of their new booking engine, and several other features. Their future, from social engagement, to communication, to booking flights, to experiencing in-flight comfort, rested heavily on how we identified their customers’ needs and desires.
The most effective step in the design process for us was to engage in journey mapping. For such large sets of data and diverse offline and online user experiences with the Emirates product, it was a great exercise.
We broke down the user experience for travel into a 6-step process. By understanding the general behaviors, thoughts, and feelings of people during this process, we identified opportunities for Emirates to offer value. These opportunities ranged from stripping down features from our mobile products, to documenting their trip, connecting with other travelers, and accessing the most important information online.
INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE = COHESION
Because of the multiple opportunities we concluded with story mapping, our strategy was to connect all new and existing feature to the booking engine, enabling total transparency and opportunity for the user to organize the best travel experience possible. This involved interlacing our Special Offers feature, Help/FAQ system, and “Explore Destinations” feature with our booking engine. Users could now access each feature for reference on their destination, special deals on their travel, and further information about booking and policies. This cohesion of features removed the previous disjointed experience of their site.
FEATURE: Special Offers
Problem: Emirates.com offers many special-priced offers and fares for their customers. As part of the redesign project, our goal was to provide transparency of all information and regulations, increase personalization through filtering and saving offers, and designing the experience to be responsive, ultimately leading to clear information and accessibility for the user and increasing financial interest for Emirates fares.
Solution: The most impactful solution was to design responsive modules and templates that could seamlessly communicate the large amounts of information and guidelines for Special Offers. We also had to consider the fact that most users were accessing special offers on their phone. So, we went with a mobile-first approach in our design process, developing interactions based on common user behaviors.
Integrating the modular designs for the booking flow into the special offers feature was validation for it's effectiveness. We could easily place these booking modules into any context on our site, making for an efficient use of cross-functionality that otherwise wouldn't have been possible had we not leveraged these modules. Annotating the purpose and interactions of these modules was a key part of the process with our development team.
After several rounds of iterations to the wireframes and frequent client presentations, my team agreed on a general approach for the visual identity of the feature, and I helped guide the front-end development team on interaction design. The project is still under development and is set to launch in January 2015.
FEATURE: Media Centre
Problem: With a new UX and digital strategy for Emirates, it was our goal to design a totally new campaign for our new direction by providing film, article, and image assets for journalists and media members. Communicating the pillars of the Emirates brand while providing content for press/journalists was that main approach we took with this this project.
Solution: Starting with basic sketches and low-fidelity wireframes, the product evolved into a responsive search engine that filtered and sourced data for all types of media - photos, articles, and news. A key factor for the design of the Media Page was the ability for users to quickly search and filter for content. Rather than prioritizing free-will exploration as an experiential quality of the site, we prioritized accessibility.
Upon the approval of the client, I worked closely with our Art Director on the UI and visual identity. Communicating the ease of use and exploratory nature of the content was very important in a visual sense, and I maintained close contact with the visual designers to ensure that. The designs came out great, reflecting the new, flat-style design Emirates will be incorporating across the site.